Unmuted: Ending the War on Cannabis

This episode of Unmuted addresses how cannabis in the Black community has been weaponized opposed to how, in the white community, it has created opportunity and generated wealth.

Video Transcript

ALEX TODD: It's just crazy that there's pharmaceutical companies out there that are just willing to keep feeding us with opium, but people can't smoke a plant that's been scientifically proven to help people in 100-plus different types of illnesses or categories in life.


TATIANA PILE: Hello, I'm Tatiana Pile. Joining us today we have Alex Todd, Saucey Farms and Extracts Co-founder, Jim Jones, hip hop artist and Saucey Farms and Extracts Co-founder, Jessica Jackson, Reform Alliance Chief Advocacy Officer, and Cedric Haynes, Weedmaps Director of Public Policy and Partnerships. The assault on people of color in America continues with 700,000 people arrested for marijuana offenses each year. How can we begin to break down the legislation and the stigmas?

ALEX TODD: Right now, in terms of the marijuana industry, I think that it's totally unjust for anyone to be in jail at all that sold weed or is selling weed or anything to do with the whole cannabis industry. We, as a team at Saucey, and probably everyone on this panel, I'm sure agree does not deserve to spend one day or one minute in jail when there's people out there that are trying to take billions of dollars in this industry.

CEDRIC HAYNES: When I think of equity I think of ownership of a cannabis business in a cannabis marketplace, ownership of a cannabis license. A license is required to operate a cannabis business in legal marketplaces. Ownership is important because while the impacted communities are having issues with benefits, housing, student loans, jobs, or even currently incarcerated because of cannabis, you could flip to any news channel or read the news or do a quick Google search and you hear folks talking about how much wealth they're building with cannabis, all while people are suffering because of it.

So the power really is in ownership. And then in terms of like the biggest roadblocks, you know, we just said this, I just said that success is obtaining a license and being a cannabis business owner, right. The biggest issues are the lack of opportunity built into these marketplaces. The biggest problem if you do have an opportunity is the access to capital, and licenses are extremely expensive and extremely hard to get.

When you're going up against, you know, big time guys, big investors who have, you know, bottomless pits of money to hire the best attorneys and the best consultants to write the best applications from the best teams, you've got to compete. You've got to advertise. You've got to work through the supply chain to make sure you're able to run a sustainable business and be able to keep the opportunities that you created for your people.

ALEX TODD: The biggest problem is always going to come down to the financing and the money. It's like the same thing with us. As big as we seem, we're fighting against some monsters in this industry, you know, people that have billions and billions and billions of dollars to lose per quarter. Like these are the people that we're fighting against. Like we're fighting against giants.

And from the type of humble beginnings that our owners and our people, founders of our company, I mean, it's not feasible thinking about it like just starting up out of nowhere and just getting all this money from somebody so. Everything is a learning process just like everything else, just you have to start somewhere.

TATIANA PILE: You most recently started, worked on the Reform Alliance. Can you just talk a little bit about what exactly that is and your involvement in that?

JESSICA JACKSON: Yeah, so the Reform Alliance is a nonprofit organization. We're national nonprofit, and we focus on probation and parole. So while there's 2.3 million people who are living behind bars in our prisons and jails across the country each day, there's 4.75 million people who are on some form of supervision and just living on the edge of incarceration. They could have their supervision revoked and be incarcerated for things that aren't even committing a crime, right.

They might be in a state where marijuana is decriminalized, and they still, if they test positive, might get sent back to jail for a technical violation. They might miss a meeting with one of their probation officers or parole officers or be late on a payment of restitution or fines and fees and face going back to jail and prison. What we're doing here is we're really focusing on disrupting that mass supervision to mass incarceration cycle that's holding so many people back.

TATIANA PILE: What do we think at the most basic level needs to change in order for us to effectively continue on for people of color to have equal rights in the cannabis industry?

JIM JONES: Now that they're bringing it back and making it legal. Because marijuana is not as harsh as cocaine or dope or anything like that, which they have it registered in the law just as strong as cocaine and dope. That's where marijuana is right now. So this is what we are fighting for to make marijuana legal, because besides just getting high, there's a lot of medical benefits that's been proven for it. And these are also the things that they put into consideration when they legalize these laws and things like that along with the billion dollar updates that go.

I like to smoke weed. Saucey's a dope marijuana company. We here for all the black and brown people and even the pharmacists. If you know anything about marijuana, you could go onto our website. You can DM us. And we are giving out jobs, and we are giving out opportunities. And we are educating our people on how they can get into the marijuana business. Keep doing what you're doing for our people. Peace out.